The First Hagerstown Hose Company, which is also Engine Company No. 1 of the City of Hagerstown Fire Department, was organized as early as 1815, a short time after the second war with England.
Concerned citizens of Hagers-Town (as it was spelled at that period of time) met at C. C. Fetchtig's Tavern to discuss the formal makings of the company. All records of the meeting, if any were ever made, have been lost to time, but it is known that Messrs. Stewart Herbert and William Miller were among the first organizers of the company.
Through the tireless efforts of our organizers the First Hagerstown Hose Company was incorporated by the Legislature of the State of Maryland, the Charter being Charter 42, of the Acts of Assembly on 8 January 1823.
From our beginnings, First Hose Company firemen worked out of their homes as a bucket brigade until getting their first taste of a homestead. When the cry of "FIRE" was circulated through the town, our firemen would dash from their homes with buckets in hand towards the conflagration. As time progressed our forefathers, looking for a home, sent a request to the parishioners of the St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran Church to build an engine house on the church property.
St. Johns parishioners discussed the firemen's request on 20 November 1829 due to the need for fire protection in the area but no action was taken by the church. Church records show that the firemen's request came up again on 18 April 1836 at which time the parishioners granted the First Hose Company firemen's request.
The first Engine House was built upon the grounds of the St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran Church located at 141 South Potomac Street on the far north side. The First Hose Company firemen operated a two wheeled cart equipped with ladders and buckets out of the Engine House. The cart was also used in Reel Team Races which were a popular sport for volunteer fireman back in it's time. These races consisted of running two hundred yards to a fire plug with a loaded hose reel, making the connection to the fire plug and laying out one hundred and fifty feet of hose in the fastest time possible.
In 1836, the First Hose Company purchased our first end-stroke Hand Pumper with a gallery from the John Rodgers Company of Baltimore, Maryland, a then celebrated engine builder. This fine piece of fire equipment was the pride of the company and became affectionately nicknamed "Pet" by the firemen that pulled her through the streets.
"Pet" was housed in the small Engine House at the church which was only large enough to house one piece of apparatus. The small building was home to the First Hose Company until 1870 when the First Hose Company was advised by the parishioners of the church in 1867 of their future remodeling plans which included use of the land the Engine House sat on at that time.
The First Hose Company remained at St. Johns for three more years until the firemen received notification from the church on 4 April 1870 that the company had 30 days to vacate the premises so the church remodeling project could begin. The church and the First Hose Company did not part on bad terms. Many of the members of the church congregation remained members of the Hose Company and both organizations still held joint activities together.
In May of 1870, The First Hose Company moved several times before finding a permanent home. Each move was either in the unit block or the 100 block of South Potomac Street. One of the locations was a shed located at the rear of the lot where the Maryland Theater now stands. The multiple moves in the Downtown District proved a need for the downtown fire protection.
On 27 January 1881, land was purchased and construction began on the fire house that is still standing and in use today. You can see the fire house our forefathers constructed in the photo to the left. The construction cost of the new building was $15,310.00. Plans called for the building to be 100 feet by 40 feet and 3 stories tall. Upon its completion, the building was named the "Hose Opera House" and would become the permanent home of the First Hagerstown Hose Company, Engine Company No. 1.
In addition to housing the fire apparatus, a grand ballroom was located on the third floor. Many Fairs and Bazaars were held there along with housing a dance studio. The rental property at 31 South Potomac Street was the home of several businesses, including a furniture store which occupied the space for many years in the 20th century. The first floor of that section is currently under construction and slated to be the future home of our Fireman's Heritage Museum.
Through the years, additions and renovations have enabled the company to grow. The additions included a meeting room, game room, and a garage which houses our 1946 Ahrens/Fox Pumper.
The 19th Century Craftsmanship and Architectural Design of the building is superb! On the roof of the building stands "RUFUS"; a bell purchased in 1884 from The McShane Bell Company in Baltimore, Maryland. The bell was named for the Committee Chairman, Mr. Rufus Hays. In the 19th Century a Marquee was added, which enhanced the front of the building. Two brass fireman's poles are still in use today, they extend from the engine room floor to the volunteer and career staff bunkroom's. This allows us quick access to the engine room floor so personnel can board the apparatus quicker during overnight hours.
Current enhancements to the building include some of the following: Exterior and Interior painting to most of the building, remodeling of our current game room, which included the addition of a kitchenette, refrigerator, stove, and sink with cabinets. We also plan for the construction of "NEW" sleeping facilities, which include a larger bunkroom, shower, and locker room.
The First Hose Company takes part in many tasks that do not involve firefighting alone. Along with running calls we take part in Public Education with Fire Prevention and Special Public Service Announcements. In 2002, First Hose took part in a No Smoking Campaign known as "Smoking Stops Here" which was launched State Wide in Maryland. Several firefighters from Engine One took time out of their day to take part in the filming of a Commercial that aired in 2002-2003 and is still available today.
Along with our Fire Alarms we answer, we also respond on medical calls with area EMS companies. This usually occurs when either the 1st due company is busy and a company from outside the city is responding in or in the event it is a high priority call such as a Cardiac Arrest. The engine company response is now required to respond on any EMS related call along the roadway within the City of Hagerstown that has increased our call volume as well.
We participate in and assist with Public Education details at the schools within the City of Hagerstown and at Children's Safety Village. Children's Safety Village is a five-acre injury prevention campus that teaches all second grade students the importance of life safety. Our volunteer firefighters also assist with Building Inspections, Training, Testing of equipment and Parade Details while working our normal everyday jobs.
Due to enhancements over the past several years in regards to staffing of Hagerstown Career Firefighters, Engine 1 responds with one Career Operator "Driver" and one Career Firefighter.
2019 - 2020 OFFICERS
President: Dave Stevens
1st Vice President: Pam Stevens
2nd Vice President: Heather Myers
Secretary: Raymond Lushbaugh
Asst. Secretary: Patty Lushbaugh
Treasurer: Gerry Saum
Chaplain: Harry Hawbaker
John Miller - Chairman
Woodrow Allan Carmack
Captain: Warren Royce Jr.
1st Lieutenant: Ernest Girardin
2nd Lieutenant: Steve Jacobs
Public Information Officers
Dave Stevens & Ray Lushbaugh